One obstacle that marketers will always have to overcome is the fact that people do not generally enjoy being pitched to. This is even more true in the realm of content marketing as people on the web have very little patience in general, let alone patience for advertising.
What people do want is to become informed and educated before they make decisions about what to buy. It helps if they can be entertained while they're learning, too. How, then, does one eliminate all the marketing prattle and sleazy sales-speak and deliver content that is educational, entertaining and persuasive?
1 Increase Your Credibility
If you want to be persuasive, you have to be credible. Showing your readers that you've done your homework and that you're presenting problems and solutions based on facts rather than your opinions will make your pitch more compelling. Otherwise you'll sound like a used-car salesman talking about all your reliable cars.
Use statistics that back up your claims and make sure they are from a credible source. Trying to sound like you did your homework by reading a Wikipedia or Yahoo! Answers page will probably have the opposite effect. Citing sources like reputable publications, research institutions, and industry leaders will boost the reader's confidence in your numbers.
In other words, instead of saying “this car is very reliable,” say “the Toyota RAV4 made Forbes' list of 10 Vehicles That Can Run For 250,000 Miles.” Not only is that an impressive statistic, it's backed up by a respected publication.
2. Skip the Sizzle
While you want your content to be interesting, stuffing it full of unnecessary adjectives and fancy wording isn't the way to get there. For one thing, adjectives can slow the reader down and distract from the point you're trying to make. They can also make you seem less credible, especially if you're using buzz words or tired phrases like “state-of-the-art” or “world-class." Trying to get through a few paragraphs stuffed with these words is too exhausting and possibly even confusing for the reader.
If you can get to the point without using adjectives at all, do it. Save your sizzle for when you truly need to add to the object you're describing or when you want to appeal to the reader's emotions in a specific moment. And then, be sure to use words that get the job done like "crisp copywriting" or "glittering lights" and not "very nice writing" or "very nice lighting."
3. Be Useful to the Reader
Take the time to find out who you are writing to so your readers will feel like you're personally paying attention to them. Once you know who they are, find out what their problems are and how you can solve them. Every piece of content that you deliver should exist to solve a reader's problem. If a reader thinks that their individual needs are being met, they won't feel like you're selling something they might not need.
4. Write Informally
Using a conversational tone helps readers to personalize you – it makes you sound like an individual having a chat rather than an anonymous corporation releasing a statement. Using the language of the reader will also make you seem like “one of them” rather than a salesperson trying to fake the part.
Take some time to learn the lingo of your readers and know where it's appropriate to use acronyms and abbreviations and know when extended explanations will sound like you're talking down instead of being informative. On the same note, knowing when you should explain some concepts or spell out terms instead of abbreviating will make sure you don't lose the reader or sound arrogant.
5. Tell a Story
If you've cut so much out of your writing by getting rid of bad statistics, sizzling adjectives, and mundane formalities that there's nothing left but a few bullet points, then your content may be in need of a story. Stories have a way of drawing the reader out of defensive positions and into a comfortable place with relatable people and happy endings. They also compel people to read all the way to the bottom to find out what happens.
A good story can help the reader identify with the problems you are presenting and should lead them naturally to draw the conclusion of the solution you are presenting. Whether you spell out the solution or leave it unspoken, by the time the reader gets to your call-to-action, they feel like they simply must click.